Cherry Tree Lane (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Impressively directed, superbly acted thriller that's both suspenseful and horrifying, though the decision to keep all the violence offscreen won't work for everyone.

What's it all about?
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams (who made the excellent London to Brighton), Cherry Tree Lane stars Tom Butcher and Rachael Blake as Mike and Christine, a suburban British couple whose evening dinner is suddenly disrupted when three hoodies (Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin and Sonny Muslim) burst into their house looking for their son, Sebastian. After taking both Mike and Christine prisoner, it quickly becomes clear that they intend to wreak violent revenge on Sebastian for grassing one of their number up to the cops.

However, when Sebastian fails to appear, the gang decide to make an example of Mike and Christine instead. And when one of their girlfriends (Jennie Jacques) shows up with an axe, events take a very nasty turn.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Butcher, who has some extremely powerful moments in the second half of the film. Similarly, Hunter, Chin and Muslim all create distinct characters rather than conforming to snarling hoodie cliches (see Harry Brown) and there's good work from Jennie Jacques and Corinne Douglas as the two gossipy girls, who don't seem all that fazed by the fact that their friends are holding two adults hostage.

Williams builds tension effectively throughout, most notably by having events unfold in real time, 24-style. In addition, the (presumably improvised) dialogue feels naturalistic and suitably banal, which works well.

The Bad
Your enjoyment of Cherry Tree Lane will very likely come down to how you feel about Williams' decision to have all the (often sickening) violence occur offscreen. On the one hand it's extremely effective, since it forces you to both imagine what's actually happening (almost certainly worse than whatever they could show you) and also to question why you want to see it in the first place, as with Michael Haneke's Funny Games.

On the other hand, it's fair to say that the audience for this film might feel more than a little cheated since the prominent promotional still (with a bound Michael and the axe) seems to promise much more than the film ultimately delivers.

Worth seeing?
Cherry Tree Lane is a well made, superbly acted British thriller that's both suspenseful and horrifying, if not quite in the way you might be expecting. Terrific final scene too. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Cherry Tree Lane (18)
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Content updated: 22/07/2018 15:54

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